LIV Golf League player Bryson DeChambeau is facing heavy backlash for defending the PGA over its widely panned decision to merge with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
As previously reported, the merger itself prompted a massive backlash, particularly from the families of Sept. 11th victims, because of the Saudi’s involvement with LIV.
In a statement released last week, 9/11 Families United — “a coalition of families and survivors of the worst-ever terrorist attacks on American soil” — slammed the PGA.
“9/11 Families United is shocked and deeply offended by the newly announced merger between the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf league that is bankrolled by billions of sportswashing money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi operatives played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now it is bankrolling all of professional golf,” the statement reads.
The chair of 9/11 Families United, Terry Strada, whose husband reportedly died during the Sept. 11th attacks, also issued her own statement.
“PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sportswashing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation. But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones,” she said.
Appearing on CNN last Tuesday, DeChambeau was asked by Kaitlan Collins about the “paid Saudi shills” remark.
Listen to his reply below:
Bryson DeChambeau, an early recruit to the Saudi-backed LIV tour, on the PGA merger shocker and criticism from the families of 9/11 victims: pic.twitter.com/i1R6AWjw1Z
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 7, 2023
“Well, I think we’ll never be able to repay the families back for what exactly happened just over 20 years ago. And what happened was definitely horrible. And I think as time has gone on, 20 years is passed, and we’re in a place now where it’s time to start trying to work together to make things better together as a whole,” he replied.
“I have deep sympathy. I don’t know exactly what they are feeling. I can’t ever know what they feel. But I have a huge amount of respect, for their position, and what they believe. Nor do I ever want anything like that to ever occur again,” he added.
He then did the unthinkable — he called for forgiveness.
“I think as we move forward from that, we’ve got to look towards the pathway to peace, especially in forgiveness, especially if we’re trying to mend the world and make it a better place. I think this is what they’re trying to accomplish, LIV is trying to accomplish, the PIF is trying to accomplish. We’re all trying to accomplish,” he said.
PIV is short for Saudia Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is the financial backer behind LIV Golf.
Collins immediately pushed back on DeChambeau’s rhetoric.
“It’s not just about 9/11. Does it make you uncomfortable at all? Because it’s not just that they’re accused of financing terrorism. They also are accused of killing a Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoggi. How do you feel knowing that that is where the money is backed by?” she said to him.
The golfer replied by noting that Saudi Arabia is technically an “ally.”
“Yes, I mean, look, it’s unfortunate what has happened. And that’s something I cannot necessarily speak on, as I’m a golfer. But what I can say is that what they’re trying to do, what they’re trying to work on, is to be better allies, because we are allies with them,” he said.
“And look, I’m not going to get into politics of it. I’m not specialized in that. But what I can say is they are trying to do good for the world, and showcase themselves, in a light that hasn’t been seen in a while. And nobody’s perfect. But we’re all trying to improve in life,” he added.
Following the segment, the criticism rolled in fast and furious, with critics accusing him of calling for forgiveness only so he can get paid as a golfer.
Is he saying the 9/11 families should forgive Saudi Arabia so that he can play golf and make money?
— Just Carmen (@Carmen50) June 7, 2023
I want all these players to go live in Saudi Arabia. Take their wives with them and then tell me if the money is worth it. Traitors.
— Bianna ️️ (@biannayeager) June 7, 2023
In summary—golf is a boring game played by greedy individuals, I got mine, and I don’t care who pays me. Wink wink on growing the “sport”…and get over it 9/11 families, murdered journalists’s families and all those the Saudis abuse
— FiddleDeeDee (@ChristieFiddle) June 7, 2023
I just watched and attended my last pro golf tournament after being a huge fan for 50 years. No Bryson, this is NOT the best thing that ever happened to golf. “Nobody’s perfect”. Did you really just say that? 9/11 dude, 9/11. Sell your soul just a little more.
— Tena Jones (@tenajones1212) June 7, 2023
“took a risk” is the new “took blood money” pic.twitter.com/EVP3PWrOv2
— Niki (@MoreWomenInSTEM) June 7, 2023
But the fiercest criticism came from Strada.
“Bryson is either completely unaware of the Saudi’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks, purposefully ignorant, or falling in line with what his wealthy paymasters from the Kingdom have commanded him to do . . . spew their talking points,” she said in a statement issued to Fox News.
“The more important question which he overlooks is how are we supposed to ‘forgive’ an autocratic government which for more than 20 years has fought transparency and accountability every step of the way and still refuses to take any responsibility?” she added.
Strada continued by reminding DeChambeau of everything Sept. 11th families have been through.
“In Bryson’s view, the families and survivors of 9/11 should simply just look away and forget? All the families have suffered immeasurable pain and loss when our loved ones were brutally murdered on 9/11 including my youngest son who was a few days old when his father, and my husband, was murdered in the World Trade Center,” she said.
“Unlike Bryson, his other LIV teammates and now the PGA Tour, we will never forget and we will continue to fight for accountability and transparency when it comes to Saudi government involvement in 9/11,” she added.
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